Maybe it's because I went into the new "Annie" without any baggage -- I had somehow never seen the original film or the musical -- but this modernized version charmed me completely.
Quvenzhané Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") is wonderful as the big-haired Annie living in foster care under the watch of the hateful, vicious Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz, miscast). Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks -- this film's Daddy Warbucks -- who is a distant, rich loner cellphone magnate running for mayor of New York City. He's not connecting with the common people, mostly because he seems to hate the common people. His handlers -- his VP Grace (Rose Byrne) and campaign adviser Guy (Bobby Cannavale) -- are looking for anything to get him ahead in the polls, which comes in the form of the spunky foster kid whom he saves from getting hit by a truck.
The general plot of "Annie" is maintained -- Annie is taken in by the aloof rich guy and warms his heart -- but the plot is updated to modern day, some of it clever, some of it cheesy.
Is this "Annie" remake necessary? Not really. But many a classic story is revived and modernized, and as a piece of contemporary entertainment, it is hard not to be charmed by this film. Wallis is a star; a genuine marvel. And she's surrounded by Foxx, infinitely likable, and the always enjoyable Byrne and Cannavale.
The music, which is sure to be a sore point with "Annie" aficionados, maintains the most famous songs from the film, but it excises some and adds new ones from pop singer-songwriter Sia. It's safe to say that the classics remain classic and the new ones likely won't become the earworms that "Tomorrow" or "It's the Hard-Knock Life" are. The overture gets woven into the opening scene, integrating the sounds of the city into the beat of the music in a really cool, kinetic way.
This is a good film. It's trite to call a film the feel-good movie of the season, but this is.